Almost two years after Tsirang dzongkhag administration began implementing the national suicide prevention action plan, the rigorous awareness programme helped bring down the number of suicide cases in Tsirang, according to dzongkhag health officials. 

Record maintained with the dzongkhag administration stated that between 2011 and 2015, 25 people committed suicide in Tsirang.

Officialssaid the number came down to seven in 2016 after the national suicide prevention action plan was implemented. 

“Suicide cases further dropped to five last year. This year, so far, no case of suicide has been reported,” an official said. 

Officials said they created awareness programmes on mental health, alcohol and substance abuse in 60 chiwogs and 17 schools, covering all the 12 gewogs and also in extended classrooms (ECRs).

As part of the plan, World Suicide Prevention Day was observed on March 17 at Damphu Central School. Students were taught the value of life through religious teachings. 

The dzongkhag health officer, Kinley, said suicide cases must have dropped because of the awareness programmes. 

“We’re right on track and our awareness programmes are making an impact,” he said. 

He added that health officials are compiling a report, which will soon be submitted to the ministry and then reported to the Prime Minister. 

Kinley said that to ensure the awareness reaches every household, health officials met the villagers and talked to them during voter education meetings last year.

“In the schools and community levels, awareness programmes were not directly about suicide but about social issues,” he said. “Teaching people the value of life and the importance of self-care was how talks went on during the awareness campaigns.”

In the 12th Plan, the dzongkhag administration plans to merge the contents of awareness campaigns with religious sessions. 

Health officials said that religious talks have more impact, as religious figures could convince people to have a positive attitude towards life. 

Kinley said that all members of the local government are active keepers of the action plan in Tsirang. “They are the primary point of contact at the community level.”

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang